Though Democrats, most notably Barack Obama, had some success in raising money from Wall Street in advance of the 2008 presidential campaign, the financial industry reverted to the norm in 2012, donating heavily to Republicans. Wall Street, unmoved by soaring stock market indexes and record corporate profits, concluded that the president was a big meanie and those nice GOP policymakers would free the industry of pesky regulations and safeguards.
We now know, of course, that these investors don't have much to show for their contributions -- Republicans assured Wall Street that their donations would drive Democrats from power, and that clearly didn't happen. And now that those same GOP fundraisers are calling again with 2014 in mind, suddenly the financial industry isn't as eager as it was before.
Wall Street donors and bundlers plunged hundreds of millions of dollars into the GOP's effort to take back the White House and Senate this year -- and now some are threatening to cut off the spigot ahead of 2014 in the face of disappointing results.
New York donors have a list of complaints: Republicans focused too much on social issues, backed too many weak candidates, stalled Hurricane Sandy aid and even let taxes go up for the very rich -- in other words, the very people giving the money and their friends.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is apparently the point person for Senate Republicans when it comes to Wall Street outreach, and he's been forced to scramble, attending 12 meetings in New York last month in the hopes of reassuring donors. NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) attended donor meetings of their own in December.
It's not an easy sell. "Everyone in the financial industry, much like the business world, look at politics as an investment, and they just don't feel like they got much of a return," one financial services Republican lobbyist told Politico. "I think it is going to be tough this time."
Ya don't say.
I don't seriously expect the financial industry to start contributing heavily to Democrats. Rather, the most likely scenario is that these donors -- unimpressed with the GOP's obsession with the culture war, record of failure, poor recruiting, and primary trouble -- will simply stay on the sidelines for the midterms and see what happens in 2016.
It's worth noting that Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), furious with his party's opposition to post-Sandy emergency relief, recently told a national television audience, "Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined." It's quite possible some of King's constituents who work on Wall Street agree.